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Transport for London (19 020 587)

Category : Transport and highways > Public transport

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 08 Sep 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: This Ombudsman has discontinued his investigation into Ms C’s complaint, about TfL’s refusal to refund charges relating to cycles she hired under its Santander Cycle Scheme. This is because TfL have now refunded the charges.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Ms C, complains that TfL have refused to refund her charges it placed on her account after she hired two cycles under the Santander Cycle Scheme. Ms C says information she saw on the Santander Cycle Scheme website led her to believe she could store the cycles in a safe place, and that that the charges TfL have implemented are unfair. Ms C would like the charges refunded to her account.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have communicated with Ms C about her complaint and contacted TfL for information.
  2. I have also sent a draft version of this decision to both parties and invited their comments.

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What I found

  1. Transport for London (TfL) allows people to hire cycles under the Santander Cycle Scheme.
  2. TfL’s terms and conditions of the scheme state that if users do not return the cycle, they may be charged up to £300 per cycle.
  3. Santander also operates similar schemes in other parts of the Country, each with different terms and conditions.
  4. Ms B hired two cycles in London and cycled to another part of the City. Upon arriving at her destination, she found that there were no docking stations in which to leave the cycles.
  5. Ms B looked on the internet to find what she should do in such circumstances. She found the Santander website which stated that she could leave the cycles in a secure place. Ms B did this and sent a photo of the cycles to TfL.
  6. TfL subsequently charged Ms B’s account almost £600 because the cycles had not been returned and had been out for more than seven days.
  7. TfL told the Ombudsman that its bikes are not provided by NextBike, and its terms and conditions do not allow cycles to be left in a secure place.
  8. However, it said that a page on the Santander Cycle Scheme website did state that cycles could be left in a secure place, and that this did not make it clear that this was not the case for the TfL scheme.
  9. TfL said that Santander had now updated its website, making the differences between the schemes clear. TfL also said it would arrange for the fees to be refunded to Ms C’s account.
  10. Ms C has now confirmed that she has received the refund to her account.

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Final decision

  1. I have discontinued my investigation. TfL has taken action which has resolved the outstanding issue and no further action by the Ombudsman is needed.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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